Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Bus Rapid Transit Viewed as Viable New Option for Cities

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Bus Rapid Transit Viewed as Viable New Option for Cities

Article excerpt

As the September 30th deadline for reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA 21) approaches, Congress continues to examine innovative ways to increase transit use.

At the forefront of these options is Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), an approach beginning to take hold in cities across the country and one that NLC strongly supports.

In a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Hearing, Federal Transit Administrator Jennifer Dorn, as well as others experienced in BRT, testified last week about the promise it holds for the future of transit. Members of the committee also commented that BRT seems to hold the key to transit for some communities.

Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) stressed that Congress must remain mode-neutral and encourage intermodalism when discussing transit options.

"No one knows better about what will work in a particular community than those that are living and working in those communities," Shelby said. "While BRT has been touted as a potential replacement for the more capital-intensive light rail, I feel it is best for communities make that determination at the local level."

In general, BRT is a roadway-based rapid transit system incorporating a number of features, including signal pre-emption, bus right of way and vehicles with improved emissions and passenger access.

Communities are able to choose from a variety of such options to create the system that best fits their community.

Indeed, BRT "is not defined by a predetermined set of physical characteristics. Fundamentally, it is a service--one that is fast, reliable, convenient, affordable, accessible and aesthetically distinguishable from 'regular' bus service," Dorn said.

The Los Angeles system, which includes signal preemption, wait times of less than 15 minutes and new buses, has reduced passenger travel times by nearly 30 percent, and has increased ridership by 40 percent since its inception. …

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